' ' Cinema Romantico: Why The World Needs A Snow Day

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why The World Needs A Snow Day

Do you remember “Snow Day”? Surely, you don’t. Who would?! Released in January 2000, “Snow Day” was one of those flavorless cinematic libations from the Dennis Duffy idea machine in the basement of the K-Mart on 38th and 6th when the studio desperately needs something (anything!!!) to dump into theaters during the calendar’s most frigid days when they know no one is going out to see movies anyway. You know, like yesterday in northeast America which became the twelve-thousandth time in the last quarter-century the ever-creative national media found reason to bust out the phrase SNOWMAGEDDON!!!!!! But while CNN was driving around in its blizzardmobile and assorted Manhattan Trader Joe's were assaulted by non-Midwesterners who don’t understand you’ll be able to get that box of Kleenex in 48 hours when its 52 degrees again, I thought of “Snow Day.”

When you grow up in Central Iowa, snow days aren’t exactly commonplace, but they definitely materialize every now and again. My senior year of high school, so impossibly long ago its backdrop was that carefree McRib era known as The First Clinton Administration, snow days repeatedly materialized. All that winter it seemed like once a week my Mom or Dad would tell my Sister and I that, yes, school had been cancelled again on account of a blizzard. And it would feel like all those snowflakes outside my window had transformed into granulated magic, and I would fall back asleep with a smile on my face and a glow in my heart and the sounds of TLC in my ears being piped through my discman. Of course, the issue with snow days and school is that if you get one, you have to make it up, usually in June when the snow is done gone and the humidity has arrived. Ah, all except for my senior year which meant that my school-going adventure concluded on the same day regardless of how many times the glorious white stuff kept me home. All these years later I still cackle with glee over the thought of not having to make up any of those 44 minute daily prison sentences with Mrs. Maxwell.

Yet sometimes I wonder if all the punishment for all those snow days never made up was simply adulthood. When you’re an adult in Central Iowa, it’s like they expect you to come to work in a blizzard simply because you’re a Midwesterner. When you’re an adult in Phoenix, Arizona they don’t have snow because Phoenix, Arizona is America’s anti-oasis of hell. When you’re an adult in Chicago you have don’t have snow days because there is public transportation and even though public transportation is guaranteed to let you down on a normal evening when you’re trying to book it to make that showing of “Two Days, One Night”, well, somehow on the snowiest of days it never ever fails. Well, all except for that glorious Groundhog Day in 2011, the wondrous day of the wonderful blizzard that dropped twenty inches of snow on this fair city and shut it down. I spent the duration of my morning, afternoon and night in pajama pants and watched “Groundhog Day”, because of course I did, and my hardened workaday soul felt nourished, my heart felt full. Every snow angel outside my window was a guardian spirit, every gust of wind a reminder that adulthood can occasionally be enchanted too.

This came to mind while reading Jesse Singal’s article for New York Magazine yesterday in which he proffers a whimsical lament for the Adult Snow Day, the way in which this technological-suffused society of ours means that we can all “work from home”, whether it’s sunny and 75 or snowy as hell and whiteout conditions. Don’t misunderstand, it’s an even-handed piece, one which takes care to point out that in reality “the adult snow day was part of a larger blip in the history of the workplace”, and that our forefathers never took off for snow and simply found “something else” to do. And he’s not wrong. In many ways the article is, as this article is, an exercise in nostalgia, a wish for the way things were when we were kids, and so in my wistful eyes the snow day has essentially gone the way of Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen wearing corsages while calling The Rose Bowl for NBC.

Still, indulge Mr. Singal his thoughts when he writes “The grown-up world has a tendency to strip things of their magic a bit, but the snow day still served as a wonderful stop sign from the heavens for myopic, overworked adults. What else could grind to a halt, even temporarily, the exhausting, striving adult world of meetings and reports and office memos?” It’s true and it’s what made me realize how desperate this over-busied world of ours needs a new “Snow Day.”

It used to be that when so much snow fell, time would stop, and no one would go to CNN to see reporters showing you how things were outside your own window. No, you’d go to the window and peer through and see the front yard blanketed and more of those magnificent ice particles falling from the heavens no doubt on account of a just Divinity who knew that sometimes it’s best to have a day where you ain’t got shit to do. It’s an idea gradually getting phased out in the name of telecommuting, the antidote to the frosty elixir, and before long I can only assume that children won't have snow days because they will be telecommuting to class because no child will be left behind.

And so even though I'm not “supposed” to employ the term Magic of the Movies lest my fellow film critics label me sentimental (which I am), I call upon the movies to record the magic of the snow day. Perhaps it could be like “A Christmas Story”, the childhood memory of an adult, one told not through archaic contrivances, but bits and pieces of nostalgia fully formed. Perhaps it could be set in the now, featuring a weary grown-up re-connecting with the mythical snow day through his children when school is called off and the iPhones don't work. Whatever it is, we need it, and we need it now.

We must create a keepsake of the blessed snow day before it’s gone.

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